steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Pants Yell!

"Songs For Siblings" CDR

Asaurus Records

Genres: lo-fi, indie pop

Asaurus Records
PO Box 0664
Allen Park, MI

Sep 26 - Oct 3 2004

I can see it now.  Three friends get together one day and record some songs in someone's living room.  One plays the guitar, one the drums, and one the bass.  They can sort of sing.  It's the same story that's been played out thousands of times before, by start-up bands and goofy teenagers from all across the world.

At first, it's all just a bunch of floating ideas.  The songs are simple, recorded mainly to remember the event - but after a few more "practices" (they aren't really practices, as it isn't really a band), the ideas become more cohesive, and the songs start to develop melodies and hooks.  Some other friends drop by and listen for awhile, and their wide-eyed expressions indicate that they are somewhat impressed.  "That sounds sort of neat," says one.  "Kind of like Belle & Sebastian, but less dreary and a bit rougher around the edges."

After awhile, the band's got a couple dozen songs on tape, and they pare them down to assemble a little self-released cassette.  It circulates the area, reaches friends, charms semi-interested parents - then follow the local shows, instigating even better sales.  Five months later, they've figured out their band name (Pants Yell! seems cute and cryptic enough) and they've got a release coming out on a neat DIY label out of Michigan.  Could have been Olympia, WA or Athens, GA (pop music and ancient Greece go hand in hand), but Allen Park's nice, too.

A neat little scenario, and one that's probably entirely wrong.  Maybe the band will email me to tell me how presumptuously incorrect and stupid I was.  That'd be neat.  But when I listen to Songs For Siblings, that's what I hear.  An indie pop pet project that's just starting to bloom.  Pants Yell! have been getting major compliments and considerable buzz on the lo-fi scene, and it's all with good reason.  These songs are well-written and endlessly pleasant, although quite low-key.  The melodies are refreshingly tight, although occasionally bland - but some of these tunes are just jammed full with hooks.

"My Boyfriend Writes Plays" is one of Songs For Siblings' greatest triumphs - a subtly twangy guitar part is masterfully combined with soft percussion and lush vocals.  The results are vaguely reminiscent of Mojave 3 and Belle and Sebastian, though a bit peppier.  "Pony Tails" and "Public Gardens" also warrant smiles and hums; "Bi-Coastal Serenade" and "Your Favorite Fairgrounds," meanwhile, are good, but don't live up to the album's better moments.  

Pants Yell!'s style remains reasonably constant throughout the disc, but that's perfectly acceptable for a debut full-length.  This disc is definitely worth a look for lo-fi fans, especially considering its ridiculously fair price (five dollars).  Look to Songs For Siblings whether you're celebrating the joys of life or navigating your way through dreary melancholy.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 9 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2004]